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Preparing your property for the market – top 5 tips

By Bianca Easterbrook

Want to sell quickly and for the highest possible price? So does everyone. But after working with hundreds of property sellers and the perfect real estate agents all over Australia, we’ve seen it all, and there are home presentation strategies that work and those that don’t!

Many people spend too much time or too much money preparing for a sale. Don’t make this mistake. Follow these 5 simple and low-cost tips to a quicker sale at a higher price. Who wouldn’t want that?

Tip #1 Landscaping: declutter your entrance

  • Prune back unruly shrubs
  • Clear away dead leaves
  • Weed the flower-beds
  • Mow the lawn, and use an edger to tidy up any messy lines
  • Waterblast pavers, driveways, and the outside of your house
  • If appropriate, buy some new soil or mulch, for a fresh looking garden

Cost: $0

Time: Half a day to a weekend, depending on the garden

The key here is to work smart, not hard.

Do: Work on the things that will have a big impact, such as clearing away mess. Don’t: Spend a lot of time and money on new plants or re-designing the space.

When it comes to selling your property, you can’t pass-up street appeal. It’s the first thing buyers notice, especially when they do a drive-by to check out the property before an open home.

Tip #2 Repair: show buyers a functional, well looked after property

  • Check the lights work and replace any blown lightbulbs
  • Tighten-up loose hinges and wobbly doors
  • Spray WD-40 on creaking doors and fittings
  • Fix any cracked glass on windows
  • Remove broken and old flyscreens
  • Paint over cracks and patches on the walls

Cost: $0-$500 depending on your DIY skill level and materials

Time: Half a day to a day

The little things matter because they indicate to a potential buyer the condition of the overall property. A buyer who sees a well-functioning surface feels comfort that the things they can’t see are also well-functioning.

Tip #3 Freshen up: modernise your look with a few low cost upgrades

  • Check your light fittings: are they cracked, old or outdated?
  • Look at light-switches and power-plugs: do they take you back to the 90’s and have a yellow tinge to the plastic?
  • Next is door handles: all the same and in a classic or modern style?
  • What about cupboard and drawer handles?
  • Finally, check your bathroom fittings: are they in desperate need of upgrading?

Cost: $500-$1000 to upgrade all of the above with brand new fittings

Time: One day

Get organised, arrange a handyman ahead of time, and then go to a big hardware store to buy everything you need. These simple upgrades can turn rooms and spaces that are terribly dated into charming and fresh looks.

Tip #4 Declutter: maximise the feeling of spaciousness

  • Remove all excess furniture – think chests of drawers, filing cabinets, book-cases, additional seats, etc.
  • Clear away all ornaments, piles of paper, books by the side of the bed, appliances that sit on the bench, etc.
  • Inside your cupboards, drawers and storage areas take the excuse to have a good cleanout and remove at least 50% of what was inside!
  • Everything you are able to remove makes the space look bigger to prospective buyers, so be ruthless and clean out all those things that are “practical” but take up floorspace

Cost: $0, and if you end up having a garage sale you might make money!

Time: No more than a weekend if you are ruthless with yourself (it shouldn’t take any longer than moving house will!)

This tip is the one that is so often neglected, because it isn’t that fun to go through your things and throw stuff out. With that said, if you are successful selling your house then you will have to do this anyway, and you may as well do it earlier and benefit from a better looking property when you start conducting open homes.

The rule we use is: If I haven’t used this in the last 12 months, I don’t need it. That is a lot easier said than done, so another good trick is to rent some storage space ahead of time, and just store everything to get it out of the house. You may find even a couple of months later you are a lot less attached to items that before you “simply couldn’t live without”!

Make sure your home is tidy and de-cluttered to enhance the feeling of spaciousness and cleanliness when potential buyers check-out your home.

Tip #5 Spring Clean: have buyers feeling ready to move in

  • Once you have de-cluttered (or during), it is time to give the place a thorough spring clean
  • As you are cleaning out the linen cupboard, wipe the shelves out and refold the linen so it looks neat and tidy
  • In the laundry, wipe down all the shelves and clean the dryer filter as well as the appliances themselves
  • Vacuum all those hard to reach places under the bed, behind the couch, underneath the rug, etc
  • Clean out the pantry and wipe down the fridge as well as all the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen
  • Give the bathrooms a solid clean so that the shower, basins and tubs look fresh and sparkling
  • Give all the windows a good clean inside and out

Cost: $0 to $200 depending on whether you clean yourself or hire someone to clean for you

Time: Half a day Think about what you would expect if you went to a 5-star hotel. Clean sheets, no dust anywhere, impeccably clean bathroom, right? The same is true of people coming through your home on Open Home day.

So for the sake of four weekends and under $2000, put your best foot forward to potential buyers. You will sell faster (less Open Homes!) and for a higher price (we all want that!). Also, if you get organised then this will make life less stressful later on when you need to move. You’ll be drinking champagne and searching for your next dream house instead of madly packing and cleaning out the old place.


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